Although not offering the maximum charge speed MagSafe is capable of, this car mount from Belkin promises to be a convenient way to attach your iPhone to the dashboard vent of a car, while also charging it with no cable plugged into the phone itself.
Is it one of the best car phone holders around? Read our review to find out…
Belkin Car Vent Charger for MagSafe review: Features and tech
MagSafe is a proprietary magnetic mounting and wireless charging system, and is the main feature of this dashboard mount. Instead of gripping your iPhone like other mounts, the Belkin BoostCharge wireless charger relies entirely on your phone’s integrated magnets to keep it in place.
This works pretty well, and although we had expected the charger to snap to the back of our iPhone with more force, it actually does a surprisingly good job of keeping the phone in place. Even in a firm car driven over large speed bumps, our iPhone stayed attached.
We suspect there might be the odd occasion when an iPhone could become detached, but short of extreme off-roading we reckon it’ll stay securely in place during everyday driving.
The charger has a USB-C port and comes with a USB cable and a 12V adapter in the box, for attaching the charger to your car’s lighter socket. We like how this is included in the box, and how the cable can be detached, giving you the option of using your own cable if you prefer (a shorter one plugged into a nearby USB port might be a preferred option in your vehicle).
However, although the 12V adapter is welcome, it only has a single USB port. Many other car accessories, like dash cams, usually come with an adapter with two ports, for charging your phone at the same time.
As with other MagSafe-compatible devices, the Belkin BoostCharge Magnetic Wireless Car Charger claims it can deliver 10W of power, but this is actually limited to 7.5W. Only chargers carrying the official MagSafe branding, and thus given approval by Apple, can reach the technology’s true limit. That said, we rarely expect a smartphone to be fast-charged when plugged into a car, and 7.5W is still good enough for a battery top-up on longer journeys.
Belkin Car Vent Charger for MagSafe review: Design and stability
Finished in matt black, the charger is small and discrete. It has a soft-touch finish to the magnetic side, preventing it from scratching your phone, and the mount adjusts using a ball-and-socket joint. This joint has a screw to lock it into place once you’ve set it to the right position.
The charger attaches to the vents of your dashboard, and while compatibility will depend on the vent design of your car, it should fit most vehicles with horizontal or vertical vents. Mesh-style vents could be an issue, as is the case with all phone mounts that attach this way, and Tesla Model 3 drivers will have to look elsewhere.
The rubberised grip of the Belkin mount is very firm, taking a fair bit of effort to slide onto a vent. But once in place, this means it has a tight grip and is unlikely to fall off. Our only criticism here is how the charger and attached iPhone will pull the car vent downwards.
This wasn’t an issue in our car, as the iPhone soon touched the dashboard, preventing it from angling down any further. But if your car vents have a lot of travel, and there isn’t a place for the bottom of your iPhone to rest against below the vent, it might point too low, since the vent itself cannot be locked into place. This is an issue with all vent-style phone mounts, and certainly isn’t exclusive to this one.
Since MagSafe requires nothing but magnets, your iPhone can be held in landscape or portrait, depending on which orientation you prefer your navigation app.
On that note, we must remind readers that in the UK it is illegal to hold and use a phone while driving. A navigation app can be set up while parked, then looked at and listened to while driving, but the driver cannot touch the phone unless parked. The phone also cannot be touched while sitting in traffic, even if the car is switched off.
The ball-and-socket joint provides about 45 degrees of movement in any direction, so the iPhone can be adjusted to comfortably face the driver in most vehicles. The bottom-mounted USB-C port makes it easy to run a cable down to wherever your car’s 12V or USB socket is located.
Belkin Car Vent Charger for MagSafe review: Verdict
If your car doesn’t have CarPlay and you want a safe and convenient way to use your iPhone for navigation, the Belkin Magnetic Wireless Car Charger gets a lot right. It is small, discrete and takes up very little space, while offering an incredibly convenient way to charge your iPhone and use it for navigation.
The vent mount is a near-universal standard among most vehicles, and the included USB-C to USB-A cable, plus a 12V adapter, gives two options for plugging it in, right out of the box.
We were pleased with how securely the mount held our iPhone, and the screw-lock ensures the adjustable joint stays firmly in place too. Owners of smaller cars might have limited options when it comes to positioning their iPhone, especially if they want it in portrait, as it can block access to infotainment or climate controls. But for everyone else this mount is a great way to conveniently charge an iPhone while driving.